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Subject: Cimic House, Al Amarah
S.C.P    6/18/2006 12:21:30 PM
This may have been discussed already but I was wondering what your thoughts were on the 23 day battle fought by the British Army's Princess of Wales Regiment at Cimic House, Al Amarah. A HUNDRED brave and outnumbered British troops fought for 23 DAYS to hold an outpost in Iraq against a massive rebel force. Y Company of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment Battle Group were attacked 85 TIMES by a 500-strong militia. Mortars, rockets and bullets fired by heavily armed religious extremists crazed on drugs poured down on the squaddies day and night. But they repulsed every charge and killed 200 enemy fighters in the longest continuous action fought by the British Army since the Korean War 50 years ago. It was an achievement which brings back memories of Rorke's Drift, where a handful of redcoats held off 5,000 Zulus in South Africa in 1879. Now The Sun can reveal the amazing story of grit and courage for the first time. In August rogue Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr's Mehdi Army set out to take Cimic House, the small but symbolic UK base in the city of Al Amarah, 150 miles north of Basra. The building by the River Tigris, once the governor of Maysan province's residence, had been the isolated home to Y Company since April. The rest of the battle group is based at an old Iraqi army camp 20 miles to the south. The officer who led the heroic defence, Major Justin Featherstone, was told by his CO he had permission to withdraw whenever he wanted to. But he never took up the offer. The 33-year-old explained yesterday: "It was our turf. It was our home. We had never left it and we just decided we were not going to be pushed out of it. "None of the lads wanted to leave and would have been furious if I ordered them to. "Pulling out would have set us back months in this part of Iraq. It would also have meant defeat and our pride wouldn't let us do that." I visited the Cimic House compound in July. When I returned it was almost unrecognisable. Bullet and shrapnel holes pepper every wall, wicker fences that lined the site now lie in tatters and most of the prefab outbuildings have been gutted by fire and bomb blasts. During the 23-day battle between August 5 and 28, the Mehdi Army fired 595 mortar rounds at Y Company. They scored direct hits with 59 rocket-propelled grenades and six 107mm rockets, and assaulted the compound an incredible 85 times. The Mehdi Army, dressed all in black, once got within 30 yards of Cimic House's gates before being driven back. Our Boys fired 33,000 bullets from GPMG and Minimi machine guns and SA80 rifles. They also used 81mm mortars and underslung grenade launchers to blast the enemy. The troops believe only a miracle prevented them losing at least a dozen men. In fact they had six seriously wounded. And Private Chris Rayment, 22, of London, was killed in a tragic accident when a road barrier fell on his head. There is no figure for the enemy's dead, but conservative estimates put it at more than 200. Five of the company's vehicles were destroyed. Almost every man has his own individual story of a narrow escape. Lance Corporal Jonathan Rush's life was saved by his body armour. A 7.62mm bullet from an AK47 rifle smashed into the bottom right-hand corner of the ceramic plate as he ran across the roof top. He was knocked backwards but suffered only a bruise. Lc Cpl Rush, 24, from Wrexham, said: "If the bullet had been one inch lower it would have made a horrible mess. I am a very lucky boy." The second in command, Captain Steve Brooks, 25, from Sandwich, Kent, said troops would often only reluctantly leave their battle positions to rest when given a direct order. He said: "The men's dedication was just extraordinary. "They would refuse to be relieved and say, 'No, I'm OK here, Sir' - when they were falling asleep where they crouched. It's a testament to character and commitment.." The force comprised Y Company's 70 men, a platoon of 24 from the regiment's A Company and 12 soldiers on loan from the Royal Welch Fusiliers. One of Y Company's six-man sniper team, Cpl Chris Mulrine, 33, from North London, said: "They kept coming, day after day. But the more they gave us, the more we gave them back. It just made us more determined and morale was awesome." The defenders were resupplied whenever an armoured column could get through. With bullets pinging off their hard shells, Warrior fighting vehicles lead by Challenger II tanks from the Queen's Royal Lancers would smash through Mehdi Army ambushes. But for ten days between August 15 and 25 it was considered too dangerous for the convoys and the garrison was all alone. Y Company insist the heroes of the siege were Royal Logistics Corps COOKS Corporals Lewis Dodds and Debbie Kaye - the only woman present. In a sparse field kitchen, they produced a hot meal on every day of the battle. They were exposed
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JIMF    RE:Cimic House, Al Amarah   6/18/2006 5:14:24 PM
Glad to see that at least one segment of the British media reports on the heroism of their troops.
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